COVID-19 is a communicable disease reportable under The Public Health Act, 1994. Whether you have received your positive test result via PCR testing or a rapid antigen test, cases and high-risk contacts should take all precautions as recommended by Public Health and all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of infecting others.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, whether through a PCR or rapid antigen test, should self-isolate immediately at home or in another suitable environment.
Regardless of vaccination status, it is recommended you self-isolate for five days from the date of test or 24 hours after fever has resolved without the aid of fever-reducing medications and all other symptoms have been improving for at least 48 hours, whichever is later.
Up to 10 days after testing positive, continue to reduce exposures to others by distancing, wearing a mask, practicing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene and limiting contacts especially with people at high risk for severe disease (older, immune compromised, etc.) and settings with people at high risk such as visiting long term care.
1. What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation is an important way of preventing COVID-19 transmission. It means staying at home and avoiding situations where there is a potential to spread the infection to others.
If you need to attend an urgent medical/dental appointment, please wear a mask while you are out and let the clinic know you are on self-isolation prior to arrival. It is recommended that you attend the appointment and return home with no stops in between.
2. How long do I have to self-isolate for COVID-19?
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately at home or in another suitable environment. It is recommended that you self-isolate for five days from the date of test or 24 hours since any fever has resolved, without the aid of fever-reducing medications and all other symptoms are improving for at least 48 hours, whichever is later.
3. How do I self-isolate?
When in self-isolation it is recommended that you:
- Do not go to work or school.
- Do not go to public areas including places of worship, stores, shopping malls and restaurants.
- Do not have visitors in your home.
- Reschedule non-urgent appointments or meet virtually where possible.
- Do not take public transit.
- Have family/friends drop off food and necessities or use delivery services.
- Stay at home and separate from others in the household who are not up-to-date with their vaccinations if you have symptoms of fever and cough, even if they are mild.
- Sleep in a room away from others and use a separate bathroom, if possible
You can call HealthLine 811 to receive advice about self-isolating. Call HealthLine 811 if any COVID-19 symptoms get worse.
4. How do I avoid contact with others in my home?
Household members who have a compromised immune system or chronic health conditions may want to stay in another home or place of residence if possible. If you are sharing your home, if is recommended that you stay and sleep in a room away from others and use a separate bathroom if you can.
If an ill person is sharing accommodations with someone vulnerable to infection – those with suppressed immune systems or chronic illness, pregnant women, infants and adults over 65 – relocation is advised to reduce the risk of severe illness for the vulnerable person.
If a person with symptoms is self-isolating in shared living accommodations such as a dorm room at a university, it is recommended that they be temporarily accommodated elsewhere or have roommates and family members temporarily relocate, if possible. In cases where there may be several people with symptoms, they may co-locate until results are confirmed.
5. Do I need to self-isolate if I am a close contact of a case?
While close contacts are not required to self-isolate, public health continues to recommend that you self-monitor for symptoms for at least 10 days. Self-test immediately and again on days three and five from the point of exposure to the confirmed case. Close contacts can continue to go to work and school while self-monitoring and should respect and follow all organizational policies and guidelines that are in place to protect others.
Self-Isolate if you become symptomatic, or if you test positive.
6. How do I prepare for and cope with self-isolation?
Ensure the home is supplied with basic needs including food, medications (such as prescriptions), personal hygiene products, etc. to support a stay at home during your isolation period.
If you live alone or your household is self-isolating, ensure you have a someone who is able to check in on you and can provide an additional support or supplies you will require. Request that person to take all needed precautions to avoid infection.
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic can cause anxiety and worry in all of us. Whether you're coping with the loneliness of self-isolation, concerned about the health of your loved ones or worried about what the future may hold, there are mental health supports available to help you through this difficult time.
Learn more about coping in self-isolation.
7. What if I need medical care while self-isolating?
Pay attention to your health and how you are feeling. You can call HealthLine 811 anytime to get advice about your symptoms and whether you should seek additional medical care.
If you are advised to seek primary health care services from your physician or at a clinic, call ahead and tell the clinic you are coming in and that you are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
If it becomes harder to breathe, you cannot drink anything or you feel very unwell, go to an urgent care clinic or emergency department.
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
8. Do I still have to self-isolate when I return from international travel?
All travellers returning from international destinations, including the United States, are subject to federal government requirements that may include testing and quarantines.
Visit the Government of Canada website for information and rules around international travel.